We are all aware of how busy we, our friends, our family, and the rest of the world are, and the amount of distractions continue to increase exponentially. There is such a continuous buzz in our lives it can be easy to forget about us. I am not implying to be selfish, but there are aspects of our lives that need to be tended to so that we can better serve our families and complete our never-ending list of tasks. One thing that I find can help increase self-awareness is the acronym: HALT. HALT stands for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. I find that the HALT acronym is useful to complete a quick check on areas that may need to be addressed. We can become so busy and distracted that it is imperative to assess what we need. I find that with this self-awareness comes the importance of physical activity. Many of these areas that may need to be addressed can be done so through exercise, which is reported to enhance resiliency, improve cognitive function, reduce maladaptive behaviors, increase self-esteem, energy, and physical health, while decreasing anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, and aging (Miller, 2015). This is an aspect of my self-care that requires my constant awareness, attention, and effort to ensure it is maintained, as it is easy to become overwhelmed with work and neglect our own self-care. Scully (1998) explains that aerobic physical activity appears to have a higher effect on self esteem than other forms of physical activity, and Kravitz (2007) explains that even a single bout of low, moderate or high intensity aerobic physical activity for 25-60 minutes can increase positive mood and decrease negative mood. These implications suggest that making physical activity a habit would positively influence mood state and alleviate a great deal of negative aspects that result from a sedentary lifestyle.
In regard to HALT, some principles should always be kept in mind.
Hunger: Well balanced diet, with lots of green leafy vegetables, and the proper amount of protein, fat, and carbs for your metabolism.
Angry: Get active! Go for a walk, run, bike, yoga, gym, anything at all that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat!
Lonely: All of those things above you can do with someone else. Chances are there are many people you know who are feeling just like you. Make a date 3x/week to do an activity that you both will participate in!
Tired: Exercise is proven to increase sleep quality. Set a bedtime and ensure you get 7 hours min/night. It can take time to change your sleep cycle, but within a week or two you can ensure you are getting the necessary amount of sleep to improve your mood and be ready to take on the next day!
So while we are all aware of the benefits of exercise, not to mention the rants on social media (especially the most recent guy yelling at everyone), it is important to regularly assess how we feel and think. Often going to the gym or being active can lead to positive experiences and a better sense of awareness. Please continue to encourage others to be active and take control of their lives by modelling these behaviors and by having open conversations about our experiences.
Miller, G. (2015). Learning the language of addiction counseling (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Kravitz, L. (2007). The 25 most significant health benefits of physical activity and exercise. IDEA Fitness Journal, 4, 54-63.
Scully, D., Kremer, J., Meade, M. M., Graham, R., & Dudgeon, K. (1998). Physical exercise and
psychological well being: a critical review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 32,111-120.